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A look back at the Ekpe Udoh experiment

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The Dubs took the big man No. 6 in the 2010 NBA Draft.

Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

The Golden State Warriors are hoping the ping pong balls will bounce their way at the NBA Draft Lottery on June 22. The Dubs could have two picks in the top 14 at this year’s draft. Their own selection has a 2.4 percent chance of being in the top four and just a 0.5 percent of it being No. 1 overall.

Golden State could also get the Minnesota Timberwolves’ first-round pick if it falls outside the top three. With Minnesota holding the sixth-best odds to win the lottery, here are the chances for where the pick will land:

In the top three: 27.6 percent
No. 4: 9.6 percent
No. 5: Zero percent (The T-Wolves can’t move up just one spot due to the structure of the lottery)
No. 6: 8.6 percent
No. 7: 29.7 percent
No. 8: 20.6 percent
No. 9: 3.7 percent
No. 10: 0.2 percent

If the Dubs get the Timberwolves’ pick, it would be the fourth time the franchise will select in the top 10 since 2010

One of those selections was used on forward Harrison Barnes in 2012, who had a good run with the team and helped the Dubs win a championship in 2015. Golden State also selected Memphis big man James Wiseman No. 2 overall last year, and despite his struggles, the Dubs are hopeful that Wiseman will take a major step in his development in Year 2.

The other top 10 pick Golden State had in the last 11 years was used on big man Ekpe Udoh in 2010.

The Warriors selected Udoh No. 6 overall out of Baylor, where he transferred after spending his first two seasons at Michigan. Udoh put up solid numbers his junior year, averaging 13.9 points, 9.8 rebounds and 3.7 blocks per game.

Udoh was a monster at the defensive end in college, but his lack of size and strength would be an issue at the next level. Udoh is 6’10 and came in weighing 237 pounds, but his lack of toughness made him a target under the NBA’s old post-up heavy schemes.

Another knock on Udoh was his offensive limitations:

Here is a portion of NBAdraft.net’s scouting report on Udoh:

“What is his offensive game? Can do a variety of things, but has no real go to move … Has struggled with turnovers problems, attempting low percentage passes and overdribbling (2.4 to) … Needs to add weight and get stronger, especially in his lower body.”

Udoh was 23 when he was drafted, older than most players picked that high in the draft. Usually, teams selecting at the top of the board look for younger players with potential over anything else.

The marriage between the two started on a negative note. Udoh underwent surgery on his left wrist in July of 2010, which forced him to miss six months of action, hampering his development.

When Udoh returned in late December, he had a golden opportunity to earn extra minutes with starting center Andre Biedrins struggling. Still, his lack of consistency and foul problems made it tough for then head coach Keith Smart to fully trust him.

Udoh played in 58 games his rookie season, averaging 4.1 points and 3.1 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks while playing just over 17 minutes per game. However, Udoh’s advanced stats looked good, with him ranking first on the team in NETRTG at 6.1 and his defensive rating was the best on the team of any player who played more than 22 games.

Going into his second season, which was the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season, the expectation was that Udoh would continue to grow. Instead, his numbers only slightly improved over the 38 games he played, averaging 5.5 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game, with the highlight of his season coming in a 19 point, 8 rebound effort in a February 2012 win over the Clippers.

Ultimately, Riley decided that it was time for the Udoh experiment to end just a month later when he packaged the second-year center with Monta Ellis and Kwame Brown in a deal to get Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson from the Milwaukee Bucks.

The trade got mixed reviews at the time but considering what the Warriors got from Bogut during his four seasons with the team, it goes down as a win for Golden State.

Udoh spent 2.5 seasons with the Bucks before signing with the L.A. Clippers in 2014. After one year there, he played in Europe before coming back to the NBA and playing for the Utah Jazz from 2017 to 2019.

Looking back at the draft, Golden State missed out on Gordon Hayward (picked 9th) and Paul George, who went No. 10, but again, hindsight is 20/20.

Overall, Udoh had red flags coming into the league, but he did show some potential at points. The other thing that worked against him was the style of play. If Udoh gets picked in 2015, perhaps he develops into a rotational big man as a rim protector.

What do you remember most about Udoh?